The Lebanon school board has agreed to pay $46,500 to settle a lawsuit with a resident who claimed the board violated Ohio public meeting and public records laws in 2011.
The board voted Monday night to pay lawyer Curt Hartman $45,000 for legal fees and his client, Christine Young, $1,500 to dismiss the lawsuit filed in 2011 in Warren County Common Pleas Court. Hartman is to be paid by the district insurer, Young by the district.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Young said Tuesday. “I never got my day in court. That’s just how the court system works.”
In March, the appeals court ruled the Lebanon board “violated the open meetings act by exceeding the scope of the published purpose” of a Jan. 17, 2011 meeting “and failing to approve minutes of its January 17, 2011, January 24, 2011, January 31, 2011, and February 22, 2011, meetings, according to law.”
Young alleged that the board went into executive session to discuss timelines for personnel decisions — discussions that she contended should have been held in open session.
The appeals court ruling overturned summary judgment granted for the school district in Warren County Common Pleas Court, dismissing the case.
In September, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the school district’s appeal of the appeals court ruling.
In a statement issued with the settlement, the Lebanon board maintained it followed Ohio Sunshine Law in the case.
“The Board of Education still believes that the 12th Appellate District misapplied the applicable legal principles. However because the Supreme Court of Ohio has declined jurisdiction in this case, there are no further options to be taken,” the board said in the statement.
The board pledged to follow Ohio Sunshine Law.
Hartman said the appeals court ruling established the Ohio Sunshine Law violations, eliminating the need to continue pursuing the case. Hartman and Finney have sued local governments around Ohio over open meeting and open records issues.
“There was no reason to proceed further and just incur additional expense on both sides,” Hartman said.
On Tuesday, the board did not respond to a request for an accounting of legal fees from the lawsuit.
In December 2011, the board already had paid more than $12,000 to the law firm Ennis, Roberts, Fischer Inc. for work on the case, according to records.